The Pursuit of Happiness Rightly Understood

"Far from being a “glittering generality” or a euphemism for property, the “pursuit of happiness” had a distinct and widely understood meaning in the eighteenth century. It “refers to man’s ability to know the law of nature as it pertains to man,” Conklin concludes, “and man’s unalienable right to then choose to pursue a life of virtue or, in other words, a life lived in harmony with those natural law principles.” This broadly Aristotelian understanding of the pursuit of happiness cut across the eclectic intellectual traditions that informed the American founding, including the classical Greek and Roman traditions, Christianity, the English common law, and Newtonian science."